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Jae Laffer

Jae-Laffer-2

Karl Smith/Georgia Fair 

Upstairs At The Astor 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Good heavens, there was all sorts of excitement at the Astor Theatre last Friday, even before the show, as the evening’s musicians and familiar faces quaffed a few pre-gig pints at the Scotto.

Old friends in new clothes. Whether it was Karl Smith being back in Perth for a rare hometown gig (the night before at Mojo’s Thermos Cardy actually played a few tunes), or ol’ mate Jae Laffer from The Panics, doing his bit in support of his debut solo LP, When The Iron Glows Red, with a new band backing him. There was plenty of opportunities for handshakes and hugs, but added to that was the unveiling of the Astor Theatre’s brand new small band room. Note that the new upstairs venue is not merely the bar area, but the stripped theatrette/green room. It’s a 250-capacity spot; imagine a Shetland version of Sydney’s Metro Theatre, if you will.

Karl Smith and his band opened and it was a pleasure as always. The lead guy from Thermos Cardy and Sodastream sang behind keyboards, gently yet confidently taking the audience through his first solo album proper, Kites. The growing audience was entranced, though a little awkward as it tried to feel comfortable within a new band viewing experience. This room is all about focussing on the artist.

Georgia Fair, with a debut album, Trapped Flame, ready to spruik, performed with a unique, shy confidence. Jordan Wilson’s voice rose into the rafters as he strummed acoustically, while Ben Riley tested the soundman’s patience with his repeated requests to turn up the monitors. All in good spirit though, and the pair’s chemistry no doubt won them some new fans here.

Jae Laffer and band (including Panics bassist, Paul Otway) took to the stage with a filled room and friendship in the air. Launching into When The Iron Glows Red, the Working Class Hero-recalling title track of his album, the die was cast early. Laffer’s songs evoke strength in subtlety as the country-tinged To Mention Her soon proved. ‘I feel like a lab rat’ Laffer joked, being the room’s first headliner. He wasn’t alone though, as guests like Kill Devil Hills’ Alex Archer and fellow Panic Drew Wootoon (the latter reprising their band’s rarely head Sleeps Like A Curse) joined him onstage. Riley from Georgia Fair also provided some tasty guitar backing on Right Above My Heart. 

A departing triumvirate of Leaving On Time, Don’t Make Me Wait and Leave A Light On ended this opening night starring a gentleman in a cool new room within a magnificent venue. Well done, Astor people (again, old and the new).

 

_ BOB GORDON

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